Mayor Daley supports same-sex marriage

Laura Bush calls same-sex marriage 'shocking' Barney Frank, Schwarzenegger criticize San Francisco

By Rex Wockner

CHICAGO - Mayor Richard Daley supports same-sex marriage, he said at a press conference Feb. 18.

"[Cook County Clerk] David Orr can do it any way he wants. That would be up to him. I have no problems with that issue at all," Daley said when asked about the ongoing issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples in San Francisco.

"A lot of people are opposed to it. So be it," Daley said. "But again, you have to point out the strength of this community - they're your doctors, your lawyers, your journalists, politicians. They're someone's son or daughter, they're someone's mother or father. They're parents. And I have been with them, they've adopted children, they have wonderful children. And to me, we have to understand this is part and parcel of our families and extended families. ... They love each other just as much as anyone else. They believe that the benefits that they don't have, they should have. And so I have a very open mind on it."

Daley got testy when asked if same-sex marriage will undermine traditional marriage.

"Marriage has been undermined by divorce," the mayor said. "So don't tell me about marriage. You're not going to lecture me about marriage, or anyone else. People should look at their own life and look in their own mirror. I think marriage has been undermined for a number of years, if you look at the facts and figures on it. So don't blame the gay, lesbian, transgender, transsexual community, please don't blame them for it."

The following day, County Clerk Orr told the Chicago Sun-Times he is "game to looking at options."

"I'm fed up with people being discriminated against because of their sexual orientation," Orr said. "Whether or not, here in Cook County, we should be considering a San Francisco or other kind of protest, that is what some of us are discussing. I'm quite interested in exploring that with key players in the city and county."

The Chicago Commission on Human Relations responded by unanimously passing a resolution "that we ... hereby record our opposition to any amendment to either the Illinois Constitution or the United States Constitution that defines marriage as 'the union of a man and a woman' and thereby denies equal rights to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities and their families."

"The right to legal protection including marriage should not be limited," said commission Chairman Clarence Wood. "The time has come for fair-minded persons to step up and uphold everyone's right to fully and equally participate in society."

Meanwhile, First Lady Laura Bush called same-sex marriage "a very, very shocking issue to some parts of the American people," in an interview with the Associated Press Feb. 18.

"It's an issue that people want to talk about and not want the Massachusetts Supreme Court, or the mayor of San Francisco to make their choice for them," Bush said. "I know that's what the president thinks. I think people ought to have that opportunity to debate it, to think about it, to see what the American people really want to do about the issue."

President Bush also commented on the issue, saying he is "troubled."

"I have watched carefully what's happening in San Francisco, where licenses were being issued, even though the law states otherwise," he said. "I have consistently stated that I'll support a law to protect marriage between a man and a woman. Obviously these events are influencing my decision. I am watching very carefully, but I am troubled by what I've seen."

Also Feb. 18, gay. U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., criticized San Francisco for letting same-sex couples marry.

"I was sorry to see the San Francisco thing go forward," he told AP. "If we go forward in Massachusetts and get same-sex marriage on the books, it's going to be binding and incontestable. ... When you're in a real struggle, San Francisco making a symbolic point becomes a diversion."

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger also weighed in, saying San Francisco should stop breaking the law.

"I support all of California's existing laws that provide domestic-partnership benefits and protections," he said. "However, Californians spoke on the issue of same-sex marriage when they overwhelmingly approved California's law that defines marriage as being between a man and a woman. I support that law and encourage San Francisco officials to obey that law. The courts should act quickly to resolve this matter."

(Daley audio clip courtesy of WBEZ radio.)

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